At nine-years-old, Chelsea rarely paid attention to where the car was going. Daddy was driving that night. She pressed her nose against the winter, cold window. The neighborhood looked familiar. As the car turned and slowed onto a residential street, the houses all looked dark. It was way past bedtime.
Daddy killed the lights and coasted to a stop along the curb. “This place looks familiar, Daddy, but I don’t know anyone who lives here. Where are we?” Chelsea asked.
“”Are you sure, Silly?” Daddy asked her. “You come here with your mom all the time. At the end of the block, around the corner is the Greg’s house.”
“Oh,” she said with uncertainty. “Why didn’t we park down there then? We don’t know anyone else around here.”
“I don’t want them to know about our visit,” Daddy replied. That seemed really strange. Why on earth were they out at 10 o’clock at night, parked along the side of a street near their friends’ home, but Daddy didn’t want them to know they were there?
“I need you to be quiet and follow me,” Daddy instructed. He pulled a think envelope from the inside pocket of his heavy, leather coat.
Chelsea loved that coat. Daddy had worn it since college. It was tired, the leather worn soft. She wrapped her hand around Daddy’s forearm and stepped cautiously beside him in the dark.
When they reached the Greg’s yard, Daddy stopped and knelt in front of her. “Chelsea,” he whispered. “I have a Thanksgiving gift here for the Gregs. But I don’t want them to know who it came from. It is best if it just a surprise and they can thank God because He cares for them.”
Without further explanation, Daddy stood, took Chelsea’s hand and moved quickly to the door. He tucked the envelope in the crack between the screen door and the jam. Then, he looked at her with a mischievous twinkle in his eye.
“Ring the doorbell. Then we’re going to run back to the car. I’ll race you!”
Now it sounded like a game. Chelsea punched the glowing blue button, turned and ran back to the car two steps ahead of Daddy all the way. As soon as he caught up and unlocked the door, they sped away.
Half-way home, Daddy pulled into McDonald’s. “Wanna get some hot chocolate with me?”
They sat down at a yellow plastic table with steaming paper cups of cocoa. Chelsea waited for Daddy to explain the adventure.
“A few weeks ago Mr. Greg lost his job. The holidays are going to be really hard. They can’t afford Christmas gifts for their kids and maybe not even a Thanksgiving dinner. Your mom and I decided that God wanted us to help them out.
“God has given us so much to be thankful for and provided for us more than our family could ever need. We want to share that with others who are in need.”
“But, Daddy, why couldn’t you just give it to Mr. Greg in person?” Chelsea wondered.
“Because we don’t want them to thank us. We want them to thank God for always taking care of His children.”